Experience counts for a lot on the basketball court, a factor that takes on even more meaning early in the season.
Marshfield returned three of five starters, including high-scoring junior Hailey Browning, from a team that brought home a fifth-place trophy at last year's girls basketball state tournament.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Philomath has been hit with misfortune in the preseason with three experienced starters going down with injuries. Against the Pirates Saturday night in Philomath's home opener, two freshmen were in the starting lineup.
Marshfield's experience was just too much in a 70-32 victory.
"We came out and started the year pretty tough with teams that were healthy and solid finishers from last season," PHS assistant coach Rob Brown said. "We're a little banged up but like I told the girls, we can't use that as an excuse. We still have to do the little things and execute."
Philomath lost sophomore Emma Pankalla early during preseason practice with foot pain and she was still wearing a walking boot Saturday night. Junior Lauren Berklund sprained her ankle in the team's intrasquad scrimmage Nov. 25. Junior Hailey Matthews went down in Friday night's road game with a wrist injury and now her status is uncertain.
Head coach Dave Garvin needed to be out of the state for family reasons and Brown took over his duties, which began with Friday night's season-opening 68-42 loss at Hidden Valley.
Philomath senior Haidyn Ecker scored the game's first points Saturday night and the visiting Pirates got off to a slow start, not hitting their first field goal until junior Tess Garrett buried a 3-pointer at the 4:53 mark. Marshfield never trailed again.
The Warriors pulled to within 7-4 on a Riley Weaver layup at 3:54 and then to within 9-7 on a Reiley Reichhuber 3-pointer at 1:59. Early in the second, Ecker scored after an offensive rebound to trim Marshfield's lead to 14-9. But the Pirates' offense got hotter from there and ended up with a 20-point halftime lead. The Warriors scored almost a third of their points in the fourth quarter when the game had already been decided.
Philomath appeared to struggle on the boards and with turnovers in the loss.
"We're not doing a good job talking on defense and rotating like we need to, so there are some pieces there we have to polish up," Brown said. "Our rebounding was not good tonight and turnovers are a big part right now with the inexperience that we have at some of the positions."
Braedyn McNeely and Mia Rust were the two freshmen that started. McNeely has seen good time at point guard and Rust has actually been one of the ballclub's top scorers, including a team-high 10 in her first-ever varsity game Friday. Other players are seeing action out of position because of the injuries.
"It's not really where we want to be right now, but it is what it is," Brown said. "The good thing about it is it's early in the season and those kids are getting some good experience. Hopefully as the season goes on, we get people back from injuries and we should be a little more ready to take on some opponents."
Philomath (0-2) certainly misses Pankalla, Berklund and Matthews from the lineup. Pankalla, point guard, was a first-team conference selection last year with a 13.1 scoring average, 5.9 rebounding average and league-best 76.2 percent free-throw shooting percentage. Berklund, a forward, was an honorable mention pick who averaged 8.1 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while developing a knack for burying 3-pointers.
Ecker finished with 10 points on five field goals and commanded a presence inside, especially on defense. Garrett, one of those three starters from last year's tourney team, had a game-high 15 points for the Pirates (2-0).
Brown said he was pleased to see Philomath players keeping their heads in the game despite the score.
"I think the team is really staying positive on each other," Brown said. "I see a lot of intensity as far as kids encouraging each other, people up on the bench cheering for each other and they're not stopping, it's all game long. Their heart's in it and we've got some upperclassmen that are really leading that charge."
Philomath opened the season Friday with a 68-42 loss in Grants Pass. Hidden Valley led by just three points after one quarter but then started to pull away to build a 42-21 halftime advantage. A 24-7 scoring run in the third put the game away for good.
Rust's 10 points came on four baskets and a couple of free throws. Ecker scored nine points on four field goals, one of those a 3-pointer.
"Overall, it was a hard-fought game, the girls never gave up," Brown said. "Hidden Valley was a good team who shot well from the outside with a couple of 6-foot posts who battled on the boards. As a team we need to do a better job executing our offense and taking care of the ball."
Philomath will host a two-day tournament Friday and Saturday. Class 2A Waldport will face 4A Crook County at 6 p.m., and Philomath challenges 5A Eagle Point at 7:30 on the first day. The losers will play at noon Saturday and the winners at 3 p.m. There will also be junior varsity games.
Hidden Valley 68, Philomath 42
Friday at Grants Pass
PHILOMATH (0-1) 15 6 7 14 — 42
HIDDEN VALLEY (1-0) 18 24 14 12 — 68
Philomath: Mia Rust 4 2-5 10, Haidyn Ecker 4 0-0 9, Hailey Matthews 2 0-0 5, Bree Couture 2 1-3 5, Carrie Lillis 1 1-2 4, Riley Weaver 1 1-2 3, Reiley Reichhuber 1 0-0 3, Braedyn McNeely 0 2-2 2, Emma Matthews 0 1-2 1, Beth Manning 0 0-0 0, Olivia Jahn-McClaren 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 8-16 42.
Hidden Valley: Kaylee Krusemark 8 7-8 26, Jenelle Hurley 6 2-2 17, Kaiah Fisher 2 4-6 8, Hannah Hayes 4 0-0 8, Clara Scott 2 0-1 4, Hallee Jessee 1 0-0 3, Bailey Hart 1 0-1 2, Olivia Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Kylee Lyon 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 13-18 68.
Marshfield 70, Philomath 32
Saturday at Philomath
MARSHFIELD (2-0) 14 20 19 17 — 70
PHILOMATH (0-2) 7 7 8 10 — 32
Marshfield: Tess Garrett 5 2-3 15, Jazmin Chavez 3 4-7 10, Hailey Browning 4 0-0 8, McKayla Myrand 3 1-2 7, Alex Locati 3 1-4 7, Kaylin Dea 1 3-4 5, Sterling Williams 2 0-0 4, Emily Kruse 1 1-2 3, Marissa Erickson 1 1-4 3, Isabella Webster 0 0-0 0. Totals 26 14-28 70.
Philomath: Haidyn Ecker 5 0-1 10, Mia Rust 2 0-0 4, Reiley Reichhuber 1 0-0 3, Olivia Jahn-McClaren 1 1-2 3, Emma Matthews 1 1-2 3, Riley Weaver 1 0-0 2, Beth Manning 1 0-2 2, Bree Couture 0 2-2 2, Braedyn McNeely 1 0-0 2, Carrie Lillis 0 1-2 1. Totals 13 5-11 32.
Philomath 51, Hidden Valley 32
Friday at Grants Pass
PHILOMATH 14 10 8 17 — 51
HIDDEN VALLEY 12 5 7 10 — 32
Note: Scorebook missing two points for Philomath and showing two points too many for Hidden Valley in scoring by quarters and individual scoring.
PHS scoring: Amie Russell 9, Sara Bradley 8, Kamden Combs 8, Phaedra Hinds-Cook 8, Sydney Bradley 8, Emma Matthews 4, Jessi McCaskill 2, Alexis Van Vlack 2, Madison Rogers 0, Rivers Nuno 0.
Saturday at Philomath
Philomath 67, Marshfield 12
MARSHFIELD 0 4 6 2 — 12
PHILOMATH 31 12 11 13 — 67
PHS scoring: Phaedra Hinds-Cook 16, Rivers Nuno 10, Kamden Combs 7, Jessi McCaskill 6, Kaili Saathoff 6, Alexis Van Vlack 5, Sara Bradley 5, Dani Beck 4, Sydney Bradley 4, Amie Russell 2, Emma Matthews 2, Madison Rogers 0, Madi Olsen 0.
Team notes: Philomath's JV starts off the season with two victories. ... In Friday's win, Amie Russell scored a team-high nine points while Sara Bradley, Kamden Combs, Phaedra Hinds-Cook and Sydney Bradley each scored eight. ... The JV Warriors led Hidden Valley 24-19. ... Combs, a freshman, was the lone PHS player to score in every quarter in the opener. ... Philomath outscored visiting Marshfield, 31-0, in the first quarter. ... Hinds-Cook had a team-high 16 points with eight of those coming in the opening quarter. ... Rivers Nuno hit doubles figures with 10 points, which included 4 of 6 free throws. ... The schedule shows the JV team competing in a home tournament Friday and Saturday.
Note: The JVII team played Friday at Marshfield. Results were not available.